Authentic Honduras Food at Honduras Kitchen in Long Beach

The entire coast of Honduras is along the Caribbean so it’s no surprise to find that the cooking of Honduras has as many roots in Caribbean cuisine. Indeed, it’s also a mix of the dishes of the indigenous Lenca and Garifuna Indians and African cooking — there’s a lot of stuff going on here.

It’s often eaten over rice and it’s so well loved in Honduras a local group called Banda Blanca had a big hit titled, “Sopa de Caracol.” It was written by Belizean singer Herman “Chico” Ramos and has even been recorded by Puerto Rican singer Elvis Crespo and Cuban rapper Pitbull. You see what I mean about Honduran being an international cuisine?

There are baleadas on the menu here as well. Baleadas are the quintessential Honduran street food — essentially a quesadilla — made by filling a flour tortilla with refried beans, Honduran crema and grated dry cheese, then folding it closed. Down there, it also comes with roasted meats and avocado with scrambled eggs and plantains. There are whole streets dedicated to baleadas; it’s a local obsession.

The restaurant is sort of cute, in a wacky rec room sort of way. It’s painted a fair number of glow-in-the-dark colors, with a big map of Honduras on one wall. There are paintings on other walls, along with a big screen TV, which helps with the rec room feel. The floor is concrete, which is probably why the noise can be intense. Oh, and you enter through a kind of door-within-a-door.

You can do pretty well going not much further than the appetizers. There’s a cool sandwich Hondureno, made with shredded chicken, cabbage and tomatoes, served on a crusty bread with mayo and mustard and french fries. If you like plantains (I’m so-so on them), they’re served ripe with refried beans, green with refried beans, fried with pork rinds or pig’s feet, stuffed with ground beef and cheese — and then fried.

And hey, if you want to see how tasty a taco can be, let me suggest the taco Hondureno, which is filled with chicken, cheese and cabbage, then deep fried and slathered with salsa.

The sopa de caracol is one of eight soups on the menu (Honduran food is a soupy cuisine). There’s a sopa de hombre, described as a “Macho Man Soup,” with shrimp, fish, conch, crab, mussels, bananas and plantains, all cooked in coconut milk. There’s a tilapia soup, a crab soup, a shrimp soup, a dried beef soup, a beef bone soup and a beef foot soup.

Or, you can pass on the soups, and go to the real “Macho Man” dish, which is the parrillada Hondurena. This manyly meal includes pork chops, grilled steak, grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, baleadas, rice, beans — even drinks — served for two for $29.99.

And the Daily Specials may well be the best deals in town — arroz con pollo for $5.99; can’t beat that.

A big chunk of the menu is dedicated to beef, chicken and pork while another big chunk of it is all about seafood (with a coastline that long, seafood has to be part of the cuisine).

The ceviche is made with shrimp and conch, and it’s a big one, with celery, cilantro, tomatoes, onion, chips and rice, plantains and salad on the side.

You may never get to Honduras, but after a meal at Honduras’ Kitchen, you’ll swear you’ve been there.

Address: 1909 E. 4th St., Long Beach.

Cuisine: This casual café offers a rare taste of the Central American country of Honduras, where the food shows influences from both the land’s Spanish roots and the Caribbean.

Hours: Lunch and dinner, Mondays-Wednesdays.

Details: Soft drinks. Street parking. Reservations not necessary.

Prices: Appetizers, $2.50-$8.99. Entrees, $5.99-$12.99.

Cards: MC, V.

Information: 562-624-8849,

By Merrill Shindler

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